I've known James Kenyon since the first week I moved to Cedar Falls, fifteen years ago. He was our precious cat's veterinarian, and Laurel and I were impressed by his knowledge, wisdom, and kindness. (That's not his picture above - it's a picture of Tristam from All Creatures Great and Small. But feel free to picture Tristam - they are a lot alike). We have much in common. We are both on the school board. And we both consider ourselves politically moderate, and we both consider the other one less so.
Dr. Kenyon has been on the school board for two decades. He is a fiscal conservative, and was endorsed by Terry Branstad when he ran for congress recently. There is no reasonable person alive who would accuse him of not knowing what he's talking about, or wasting a dime of tax-money. Many of the people currently putting "Vote NO" signs on their lawn probably voted for him when he ran, because they believed in his knowledge and fiscal responsibility. Let's hear what he has to say:
For the future of our whole community, I encourage support for the upcoming bond referendum. It is the most important choice that our community has had to make in the last 60 years regarding investment in our schools, infrastructure, and future growth and prosperity.
My fellow board member has commented that he is a liberal Democrat who thinks an opinion from the slightly more moderate viewpoint may influence others who could be on the anti-tax side of the equation (math analogy for the esteemed professor). The sum of the facts adds up to the need for the bonding.
This is the first bond request from our property owners since 1972 when slightly less than $600,000 was bonded to build the swimming pools at Holmes and Peet.
The high school was a great building in 1953. However the three additions over the years have not kept up with the needs of teachers, staff, and most importantly the students we now educate. “It was good enough for me and my kids” is frustrating feedback from those who have not been in the building or who have not kept up with the ever-changing needs in education. The science labs are antiquated and are the originals from 64 years ago. This does not serve and will not serve future sciences. The technology, industrial arts, and automotive departments are beyond renovation. The flow and navigation of the building halls are impossible to renovate. There are 19 doors and entries into the building. In this day of safety and vigilance against intrusion, this is a huge concern.
The large expansion of special education and advanced placement class rooms, dual enrollment classes and courses offered with Hawkeye Community College and UNI have caused a space and room challenge. These are a few of the reasons that this antiquated facility is paramount in the bond referendum.
Even more urgent are the elementary needs. There are 5 sections of kindergarten at Southdale for a total of 97 students. An additional 96 preschoolers started there this week. Orchard Hill has 450 students in a structure built for 300. There are 6 outside portables in use (also a definite safety concern). Elementary schools of this size are not conducive to meeting the individual needs of each student.
North Cedar is certainly in need of this bond income to invest into the new cafeteria/gymnasium and classrooms. We need to provide the technology and educational opportunities at North Cedar that we have invested into Hansen, Lincoln, Cedar Heights, and Southdale.
It is time to pay forward to ensure young people now and in the future will have the opportunities that were provided to us. After our 3 children graduated, I never thought I would have more children in the school system. Now we have 2 grandchildren plus a toddler in our schools. It is time to provide for the future in Cedar Falls.
Tour these schools and the needs will be glaring. Vote and help others to also support and pay forward on Sept. 9.
These were my two important takeaways from this post.
(1) Dr. Kenyon called me "esteemed"
(2) This is not a Republican / Democrat issue. This is not a Liberal / Conservative issue. Despite out-of-town consultants' cookie-cutter divisive advice, this is about Cedar Falls, and how best to prepare our children to succeed in what looks to be a tight, competitive, future economy.